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Indoor Air. 2006 Aug;16(4):266-75.

Indoor air quality risk factors for severe lower respiratory tract infections in Inuit infants in Baffin Region, Nunavut: a pilot study.

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Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


Inuit infants have extremely high rates of lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI), but the causes for this are unclear. The aims of this study were to assess, in young Inuit children in Baffin Region, Nunavut, the feasibility of an epidemiologic study of the association between indoor air quality (IAQ) and respiratory health; to obtain data on IAQ in their housing; and to identify and classify risk factors for LRTI. Twenty houses in Cape Dorset, Nunavut with children below 2 years of age, were evaluated using a structured housing inspection and measurement of IAQ parameters, and a respiratory health questionnaire was administered. Twenty-five percent of the children had, at some time, been hospitalized for chest illness. Houses were very small, and had a median of six occupants per house. Forty-one percent of the houses had a calculated natural air change rate <0.35 air changes per hour. NO(2) concentrations were within the acceptable range. Smokers were present in at least 90% of the households, and nicotine concentrations exceeded 1.5 microg/m(3) in 25% of the dwellings. Particulates were found to be correlated closely with nicotine but not with NO(2) concentrations, suggesting that their main source was cigarette smoking rather than leakage from furnaces. Mattress fungal levels were markedly increased, although building fungal concentrations were low. Dust-mites were virtually non-existent. Potential risk factors related to IAQ for viral LRTI in Inuit infants were observed in this study, including reduced air exchange and environmental tobacco smoke exposure. Severe lower respiratory tract infection is common in Inuit infants. We found reduced air change rates and high occupancy levels in houses in Cape Dorset, which may increase the risk of respiratory infections. This suggests the measures to promote better ventilation or more housing may be beneficial. Further health benefits may be obtained by reducing bed sharing by infants and greater turnover of mattresses, which were found to have high levels of fungi.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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